Business is buzzing with growth
BY RACHEL FRASER
What started out as a hobby and a school assessment has grown into a great little business for Singleton father and daughter duo, Keelie and Dean Bell.
Dean initially got his first hive of bees given to him when a friend’s father was giving them away – that was around seven years and 29 hives ago. Dean admits that caring for the bees and learning more about them is quite the addiction and there’s always something else fascinating to discover.
Her year 11 business project last year was what spurred Keelie into action, turning her father’s hobby into a great little business. Keelie registered herself an ABN, designed their website, created the branding and had all the labels printed for the honey. The next step was finding a way to turn the vast amounts of wax Dean had been saving into something saleable and that’s when Keelie started making sustainable wax food wraps, organic lip balms and rip balm; all of which have become great sellers.
When it comes to bee keeping, Dean says if you’re thinking about it, “Try and find someone with bees first and have a go at handling them; its not for everyone”.
There are some legal requirements such as registering with the Department of Primary Industries every two years and branding all your boxes among other things.
From the 30 boxes that Dean and Keelie have spread around Singleton, Glendonbrook and Clarencetown, they harvested in the realms of 700-800kgs of honey last season.
A lot of their hives have come from splitting the originals, but others have come from locals asking Dean to remove problem hives from their homes and properties and some queens have been bought from breeders.
While temperature is a big key to keeping happy productive bees, there’s plenty of other things that will affect their temperament too, including what trees and flowers they’re feasting on.
The social structure of a bee-hive is absolutely fascinating and the temperament of a hive is set by the queen.
Dean says that once you have a cranky old queen, the only choice is to get rid of her or the whole hive will remain aggressive.
Once a hive is unhappy, the workers will swarm and desert the hive. Dean will re-queen a large portion of their hives this spring to keep them healthy and productive and keep that delicious honey flowing our way.
Keelie has noticed an increase in people wanting to buy locally of late, and has been moving more product than ever before, to the point where it’s tough keeping up with demand on the honeycomb. Her personal favourite though – the cinnamon creamed honey.
Although Keelie has plans for Uni next year and is flat out with sport, she plans to keep the business growing.
Bell’s Bees products are available in Singleton from Kong Gym, Moss and Twine and the Singleton Visitor Centre, Prop That in Greta, and Pepertree Wines in Pokolbin.